Australians come together to improve animal welfare

15 May 2019

If there is one thing most Australians agree on, it’s that we all want better animal welfare.

A recently launched University of Queensland initiative, The Animal Welfare Collaborative, brings together all interested Australians to work towards a shared goal—to make Australia a global leader in animal welfare.

Dr Jill Fernandes and Professor Alan Tilbrook (The University of Queensland) photo by Cam Neville.

UQ Professor of Animal Welfare Alan Tilbrook said that the Collaborative is currently working with 60 agricultural industry, government, academic, animal welfare and community groups. “We have embraced all, no matter their disposition on the use of animals, and have brought them all to the table to talk.”

“The strength of the Collaborative is that it is led by Australian universities and thus provides non-partisan independence, credibility, and scientific rigour, allowing us to lead initiatives with a clear focus on the animals,” he said.

The Animal Welfare Collaborative is funded by The University of Queensland and is powered by the tireless efforts of researchers at The University of Queensland, The University of Newcastle, The University of Western Australia and The University of Adelaide. The Collaborative is committed to working closely with all Federal, State and Territory Governments.

The Animal Welfare Collaborative has four key goals:

  • Encouraging all of society to contribute their ideas on how to improve animal welfare
  • Facilitating an inclusive, constructive, evidence-based discussion about animal welfare
  • Promoting best practices in animal welfare
  • Translating and enhancing a science-based approach to animal welfare

“The Collaborative has a broad remit of animal species to cover, but the group’s initial focus is Australia’s animal production and horse racing industries, which have been the focus of public concern in recent years,” Professor Tilbrook said.

At a recent summit held in Sydney, the Collaborative brought together 60 organisations with a broad range of opinions to ‘custom build’ the Collaborative so that it becomes an efficient and novel instrument to achieve its goals.

Associate Professor Dominique Blache (The University of Western Australia), Dr Jill Fernandes (UQ), Professor Alan Tilbrook (UQ), Professor Rohan Walker (The University of Newcastle), Andrew Spencer (Australian Pork Limited), Wayne Bryden (UQ). Photo by Cam Neville.

Animal Health Australia CEO Kathleen Plowman said it was encouraging to see so many groups with a diverse range of views represented at the summit.

“The summit provided a respectful forum for discussion and debate, with everyone in agreement that providing animals with the highest level of welfare outcomes was the main priority,” said Ms Plowman.

Nearly two thirds of the organisations present at the summit voiced their enthusiasm for continuing to work together to make The Animal Welfare Collaborative a success.

Key organisations who attended the Animal Welfare Summit meeting in Sydney in April 2019 include:

Animals Australia

Animal Health Australia

Animal Welfare Science Centre

Australian Chicken Meat Federation,

Australian Eggs

Australian Livestock & Property Agents Association

Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council

Australian Meat Processor Corporation

Australian Pork Limited

Australian Superfine Woolgrowers' Association

Australian Veterinary Association

Australian Wool Innovation

Cattle Council of Australia

Country Women’s Association of NSW

Dairy Australia


Meat & Livestock Australia

Murdoch University

National Farmers’ Federation

Poultry Hub

Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture

The University of Queensland

The University of Newcastle

The University of Western Australia

The University of Adelaide

The University of New England

Western Sydney University.

Other organisations interested in participating or learning more about the Animal Welfare Collaborative are encouraged to contact coordinators via the website 

Research contact: Dr Jill N. Fernandes, Researcher Animal Science, UQ Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation, M. 0498 019 840 T. +61 7 3346 2170 E. or Carolyn Martin, UQ QAAFI Media M. 0439 399 886, T. 07 3346 2092 E.